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Celtics begin final stretch with a visit from Perk and the Pelicans

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The Celtics are back at home after their West Coast trip and will host the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
at
New Orleans Pelicans (29-48) at Boston Celtics (45-32)
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #78 – Home Game #38
TV: CSN-NE, FSNOLA, NBA-LP 755(DTV)/755(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WRNO 99.5, Sirius 212
TD Garden

Referees: Bill Kennedy, Steve Anderson, James Williams

The Celtics welcome what's left of the New Orleans Pelicans to the Garden for their only visit this season. The Pelicans have been hit very hard with injuries this season, with 8 players out and one more questionable. They are just 9-30 on the road while the Celtics are 25-12 at home. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Pelicans are 4-6 in their last 10.

The Pelicans are playing in the second of back-to-back games, having lost to the Sixers in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The Celtics are back at home after their 5-game Western road trip. They last played on Sunday and so, even with the travel, they should be rested and ready to go in this one, although the first game at home after a long road trip is always a tricky one.

The Celtics won the series 2-0 last season and lead the series 1-0 this season after beating the Pelicans 111-93 in New Orleans back in December. The Pelicans have a 3-game losing streak in Boston. Alvin Gentry is 9-12 all time vs the Celtics while Brad Stevens is 4-2 all time vs New Orleans.

The Celtics are 4th in the East just 1/2 game behind Atlanta (3). The Celtics are tied with Miami (5) but hold the tie breaker over them. They are 1 game ahead of Charlotte (6) and 4 games ahead of Indiana (7). The Pelicans started out the season with much promise, but were derailed by injuries and now sit 12th in the West and just want to limp to the end of the season. Games to watch: Wednesday - CHA@NYK./ Thursday - TOR@ATL and CHI@MIA.



Probable Starters
Point Guard

Isaiah Thomas

Shooting Guard

Avery Bradley

Small Forward


Jae Crowder

Power Forward

Amir Johnson

Center

Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves
Marcus Smart
RJ Hunter
Jonas Jerebko
Terry Rozier
James Young
Kelly Olynyk
Jordan Mickey
Tyler Zeller

Injuries
Evan Turner (eye) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens


Probable Starters
Point Guard


Toney Douglas

Shooting Guard

Jordan Hamilton

Small Forward

Luke Babbitt

Power Forward

Dante Cunningham

Center


Omer Asik

Pelicans Reserves
James Ennis
Kendrick Perkins
Tim Frazier
Alexis Ajinca

Injuries
Ryan Anderson (hernia) out
Anthony Davis (knee) out
Quincy Pondexter (knee) out
Tyreke Evans (knee) out
Bryce Dejean Jones (wrist) out
Eric Gordon (finger) out
Jrue Holiday (orbital fracture) out
Alonzo Gee (quad) out
Norris Cole (back) questionable

Head Coach
Alvin Gentry



Key Matchups
vs
Avery Bradley vs Jordan Hamilton
Hamilton is the only player on the Pelicans who is averaging over 10 points per game. He is averaging 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Hamilton had 8 points and 8 rebounds off the bench on Tuesday vs the Sixers.

vs
Terry Rozier vs Tim Frazier
Tim Frazier has played with the Celtics in camp and has spent a lot of time with the Red Claws. He was signed last season by Portland but was cut by them this season and on March 16, the depleted Pelicans signed him for the rest of the year. Frazier is averaging just 4.3 points,1.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists, but he has put up some big numbers from time to time. He had 12 points, 9 assists and 3 steals on Tuesday.

Honorable Mention
Kelly Olynyk vs Kendrick Perkins
Perk makes his only visit to Boston and will come off the bench for the Pelicans. He was signed by them to mostly mentor Anthony Davis, but with all the injuries, he has gotten quite a bit of playing time this season. On Tuesday he had 8 points and 7 rebounds. He may not be the same player that was the starting center on the 2008 championship team, but he can still defend, box out, and set a mean pick. He also still has the best scowl in the league.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense will always be the key to winning. The Celtics have got to play tough defense and get stops if they want to win this game. The Celtics have to play strong defense from start to finish to keep them from scoring at will.

Rebound - The Celtics have to crash the boards as a team. Rebounding takes effort, and the Celtics have to show that effort on the boards. When they put that extra effort out to dominate the boards, it often translates to all other areas of the game as well.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics have got to be aggressive in going to the basket, playing defense, diving for loose balls, and just playing harder. In the first game back after a long road trip, teams sometimes come out sluggish, but the Celtics need to shake all that off and be the more aggressive team.

Run and Move the Ball - The Celtics play best when they run on every possession and also run back on defense to get set up before the Pelicans begin their offense. They also have to move the ball as when they over dribble and try to do too much individually, the offense gets stagnant. With the Pelicans on the second night of back-to-back games and very short handed, if the Celtics run, they can wear them out.

Don't Underestimate the Pelicans - The Celtics tend to let up against teams that they should beat. They lost to the Lakers and the Nets because of that already this season. With all the injuries on the Pelicans, it would be easy to underestimate them. The Celtics can't afford to do that because the Pelicans that are left are going to play very hard as most are still trying to make it in the league. The Celtics need to approach this game as if they were playing the top team in the West.

X-Factors
Focus - I've mentioned that the first game back at home after a road trip is often a tough one. The Celtics have to focus on finishing strong down the stretch. Home court in the first round of the playoffs is within reach but the Celtics have to stay focused and fight for it.

Home Court
- The Celtics have played very well at home, and hopefully that continues in this game. They should get a boost from the home crowd and they need to protect their home court.

Officiating - The officiating is always an X-factor. When the officials let them play and don't try to over control the game, the Celtics play best. Of course, there is always the chance of an official having a personal agenda or the league sending a message.

Official Report
Bill Kennedy

Bill Kennedy’s 17 seasons of NBA officiating experience include 1,056 regular season, 68 playoff and five NBA Final games. In addition to his NBA experience, Kennedy has five years of officiating experience in the CBA, including working the 1996 and 1997 CBA Finals. He also officiated two games in the WNBA Finals in 1998 and has 15 years of high school officiating experience in Arizona.

Celtics fans will remember Kennedy's run in with Doc Rivers that resulted in both of them being fined. Yes, David Stern fined one of his precious refs. Here is how Doc described the incident:
"[Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me," Rivers said. "Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game."
Doc was fined for criticizing a referee, but since the league fined Kennedy, they as much as admitted that Doc's criticism was deserved. Bill Kennedy has made it public now that he is gay and his beef with Doc stems from Doc questioning his sexual orientation. With Doc out in LA, that should be in the past. He may even feel a certain kinship with the Celtics with both of them being dissed by Doc and all.

The last couple of seasons, he has been decent in the games he's called for the Celtics. This season, he called the game against the Kings in which he tossed Rondo for making an anti gay slur toward him, possibly emulating his former coach. In a game vs Utah this season the refs called every little ticky tack foul on both sides and there was no flow to the game. The Jazz ahot 44 free throws while the Celtics shot 36. The Celtics are 1-3 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Kennedy while the Pelicans are 1-2 this season and 4-6 in their last 10. Kennedy's home W/L record this season is 33-27.

Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson enters his third NBA season having officiated 99 regular season games. He joined the full-time staff in 2013-14 after six seasons as a referee in the NBA D-League and already having officiated 18 regular season NBA games as a non-staff official. Anderson officiated the FIBA U19 World Championships in the Czech Republic in 2013. This season in a game vs the Nets, the officiating was one sided toward the Nets and Brooklyn took 30 free throws to 14 for the Celtics and that was after they tried to even it up down the stretch. He also called a game vs the Pacers last season in which there were quite a few head scratching calls that prompted a "That's terrible!" from Tommy several times.

He called the win over Miami this season and for the most part let both teams play. But, made a few bad calls against the Celtics down the stretch. With just over 2 minute left, they called a foul on Amir Johnson for a foul when Amir and Bosh were both scrambling for a loose ball. Amir was on the floor with the ball and Bosh landed on top of him. It gave Miami possession in a close game. In a game vs the Knicks this season, the refs were ok for the 1st three quarters but were terrible down the stretch, letting the Celtics get mugged several times with no calls and calling fouls on the Celtics for minimal contact. They let free throws decide the game.

In a game vs Denver this season, there were bad calls both ways for most of the game but it seemed as though there were more against the Celtics than against Denver. Celtics shot 20 free throws to 34 for the Nuggets. In a game he called vs Cleveland, the officiating was terrible and one sided towards Cleveland. Even the Cavs fans noticed the one sided officiating. Here is a comment from a Cavs fan on their forum:

"If refs are going to allow a game to be physical that's their right. But they have to let both teams play that way. Fouls are 19-11. FT's are 28-11. That's not right for this style of game IMO."

The Celtics are 3-2 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Anderson while the Pelicans are 1-1 this season and 7-3 in their last 10 games with Anderson. His home W/L record is 29-17.

James Williams

James Williams enters his sixth NBA season having officiated 278 regular season games and 3 playoff games. Williams owns 10 years of experience in the collegiate ranks, having officiated for the NCAA from 2001-2010. He also officiated two seasons in the WNBA, and has worked two NBA D-League Finals as well as the 2010 NBA D-League All-Star Game.

There hasn't been a lot of controversy with James Williams as a referee. None of his games stand out as terribly bad as with some refs. Williams called the game against Miami earlier this season and for the most part they let them play. However, he made a head scratching call against the Celtics. With just over a minute left, he called a foul on Amir Johnson, when Johnson and Bosh were both scrambling for the ball and Bosh landed on Amir. That gave Miami possession in a close game. Other than that, he's been decent in the games he has called for the Celtics. The Celtics are 4-2 this season and 8-2 in their last 10 games with Williams while the Pelicans are 0-1 this season and 4-6 in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 32-30.